Help Light the Way: The Luminary Scholarship Effort
Jon Petty: "Thanks to my scholarships, I can take classes like church finances or Greek and Hebrew, even though those aren’t required. All those classes will help me be a better pastor, a better thinker and more engaged in society as a whole."
When Jon Petty left his fulltime job in Kansas City, Mo., to attend seminary across the country, he knew God would have to make a way forward for him financially. A second year Master of Divinity student and Urban Fellow, Jon began feeling called to ministry during college in Chicago where he attended an African Methodist Episcopal church.
Pastors and members of his congregation in Chicago encouraged him to explore his call to ministry, but Jon was not sure how he could make going to seminary possible financially.
“I got to the point where I thought if God wanted me to do that, I needed to hear that from God,” Jon said. With the encouragement of his wife Monica and significant prayer, Jon sent in applications to eight different seminaries, even though he still was not sure where the money to pay for school would come from.
Of the six schools he was accepted to, Wesley was his top pick and offered him the best financial aid package so he could receive a top tier theological education.
“Without those scholarships, I wouldn’t be able to be a student here,” Jon said. “It definitely helps me get a well-rounded education and I’m able to pick what classes I want to take without worrying about expenses. Thanks to my scholarships, I can take classes like church finances or Greek and Hebrew, even though those aren’t required. All those classes will help me be a better pastor, a better thinker and more engaged in society as a whole.”
Jon’s experiences growing up in the inner-city of St. Louis, Mo., with a single mother had an impact on the kind of minister he wants to be in the future.
“I don’t want to be the typical pastor as the world sees it by staying inside the church,” he said. “At this point in time, I see myself being a pastor, an orator, a theologian and maybe even a professor. Through those positions, I think I’ll be able to engage with people who are marginalized and able to converse with scholars and those who can make a difference.”
Jon acknowledged many of the professors at Wesley as people who have helped him discern his call and grow in his identity as a future pastor. The Wesley community is a unique blessing, he said.
“I’m so grateful,” Jon said. “My experience at Wesley has been both a challenge and a reward within a challenge as I understand what this thing called ‘ministry’ is. Without Wesley, it would have been a very different experience. If anybody is lucky enough to spend just a few hours here they can see the grace, love and encouragement that are part of this community. Without the support of alumni and donors, that would be very difficult to accomplish.”